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Monica_55905 Dec 01


Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO of SEforALL and Chairwoman of AEF 2019, answers our questions
Can you share with us your primary goals and what you aim to achieve both in the context of Africa and the rest of the world?

With less than a decade to meet Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7), the challenge ahead of us is significant, but also one full of opportunity that could transform millions of lives. That is why I felt compelled to take on the unique role of SEforALL CEO and UN Special Representative that has the opportunity to accelerate change at a global level.  

Since its inception in 2011, a lot has changed at SEforALL. We’re moving away from a focus on awareness-raising to more of an engagement model that prioritises data-driven decision-making, engagement with high-impact countries and implementation on the ground. 

Meeting SDG7 targets on time will require new commitments, resources, and activities focused on broad partnerships and scalable programmes. While efforts are being made to pro-vide energy access and mitigate climate impacts, these efforts have proven to be insufficient, fragmented and lack accountability thus far.

Africa is a region full of promise and a growing hub of innovation. Yet this progress is stifled without access to sufficient, reliable and affordable energy. 

Many make the mistake of thinking that energy access is about simply being able to turn a light on. However, energy access must allow people to be economically productive and fulfil their potential. 

That is why I want to bring communities and countries most impacted by a lack of energy access to the table as partners in developing solutions that meet their needs and deliver affordable, productive energy access. 

SEforALL is developing a new initiative on universal integrated energy planning that will support high-impact countries to develop geospatial-based universal plans that identify the optimal mix of technologies and associated costs for achieving universal electricity access and clean cooking at a community level. 

One of our big focuses is how we can support the growth of decentralised renewable energy solutions and increase reliable and uninterrupted energy production to reach the most vulnerable. For those innovative, forward-thinking businesses that want to invest into renewable energy, de-centralised solutions are a great opportunity to invest into the future and be part of the solution.

However, we know it can be challenging for developers and entrepreneurs to find this investment, and for investors to connect with these businesses. That’s why events like the SEforALL Forum and Africa Energy Forum are so important as they act like a marketplace where new partnerships can be developed. 

We’re delighted to have you as the first Chairwoman of the Africa Energy Forum. What should attendees expect from SEforALL at the Forum this year?

I accepted this role before Covid-19 hit, and now, being the first Chairwoman of the African Energy Forum feels even more timely and important than before. Covid-19 has shown that no country can respond to a pandemic without power and that energy access, quite literally, saves lives. A lack of energy access has the potential to magnify the human catastrophe and significantly slow recovery.

During this unprecedented time, we must coordinate efforts, work with decision-makers in at-risk countries and find rapid solutions to ensure access to sustainable energy for all. Gatherings like the Africa Energy Forum will play an important role in this progress, and SEforALL will use it to engage, share data and continue working with companies and institutions to understand, quantify and respond to the impacts of Covid-19 in a way that doesn’t put at risk a clean, sustainable future energy transition for all. 

This article is an extract from the Africa Energy Yearbook 2020, a partnership between African Business and EnergyNet.

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